Harmony Youth Summit

Awaken Your Inner Navigator

The Harmony Youth Summit (HYS), which took place on 2nd June this year, brought together young people from Māori and Pasifika communities, as well as multicultural youth, to share their perspectives on the challenges they face today. 

The summit’s main objective was to generate recommendations that would be shared with the current youth committees, with the aim of developing workshops to address the identified issues and connect with other young people. 

As a partnership program between the National Rugby League (NRL) and CMY’s Le Mana Pasifika Youth Project, started in 2019, this year’s summit also saw the participation of the Western Young People’s Independent Network (WYPIN) and NRL’s In League in Harmony (ILIH), which were involved in the logistics and organisation of the summit. These organisations each brought their own youth committees to the table, allowing the participants to actively contribute in co-designing the event’s theme and content. It was their passion and dedication that shaped the topics, workshop sessions, and facilitation plans. 

To enrich the summit experience, the organisers enlisted the support of Culture Spring, a youth-led initiative by CMY. The Culture Spring team provided cultural competency and personal development training to teachers who accompanied their students on the day. This training equipped educators with the tools to understand their students’ cultural values and take the learning back into their teaching settings. The Sa’ili Le Ala (Discovery Sprints) partnership led by Swinburne University was also a partner on the day contributing with their services. 

The primary target audience was Māori and Pasifika young people, but the organisers also engaged young people from a range of multicultural backgrounds. The ILIH and Le Mana school programs played a key role in raising awareness and garnering participation. This inclusive approach exceeded expectations, resulting in a diverse and vibrant gathering of 139 young participants. Under the theme “Awaken Your Inner Navigator“, the summit tapped into the history of Māori and Pasifika communities, known as some of the greatest navigators and seafarers of the world. 

“The reason behind that theme is that in Māori and Pasifika history, we are known as one of the greatest navigators and seafarers of the world. We thought we could tap into that part of our history and provide young people a space to navigate their way through their own growth and development journey. Lots of them didn’t know that part about their history, but they had the opportunity to discover something new about themselves and leave with a sense of pride.”

– Frances Masi, WYPIN Project Officer 

Participants discussed issues and topics well-known in Māori and Pasifika communities through four engaging workshops: 

  • My Community and My Relationships 
  • My Skin and My Culture 
  • My Education 
  • My Mental Health

The summit provided a platform for the young participants to voice their concerns, aspirations, and challenges. From discussions on mental health within Māori and Pasifika cultures to the obstacles faced by young people within educational setting, including racism and discrimination, these workshops explored avenues for connection within various social contexts, including schools, communities, and workplaces. 

The Hon. Ros Spence MP, Minister for Community Sport, was one of the notable guest speakers who delivered a stirring address, inspiring the young attendees. The MP Kathleen Matthews-Ward paid a during the event as well and her presence added significant value to the summit.

The panel comprised five remarkable young individuals who had made a significant impact in their respective careers and communities: Shenei Penaia, Victoria Youth Parliament member; Yvonne Savea, professional Rugby Union referee; Samisoni Fifita, Education Support Worker; Mohammad Hussaini, NRL Victoria Game Development Officer; and Maxwell Leuga, CMY’s Youth Intern. 

“The main highlight was that on the day we created a space that had actually brought out a lot of people’s confidence that they didn’t know they had, especially people who have never spoken in a group actually spoke out.

– Frances Masi, WYPIN Project Officer 

Looking ahead, the organisers plan to expand the summit further, anticipating a larger number of participants in the future. To accommodate this growth, they hope to extend the event to its original three-day format. This will allow for more in-depth discussions, fostering an environment conducive to empowering even the most introverted participants. 

“They [young people] said they can’t wait for the next summit.”

– Frances Masi, WYPIN Project Officer 

We extend our gratitude to all the organisations and individuals involved, who played pivotal roles in ensuring the summit’s success and its profound impact.